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Conservation and Scientific Research Projects

The Metropolitan Museum houses a world-renowned complex of scientific research and conservation facilities, each of which serves as a training ground for conservators from around the world. There are five major conservation areas—Objects Conservation, Paintings Conservation, Paper Conservation, Photograph Conservation, and Textile Conservation—the first four of which are supported by and named for the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. In addition, the Museum maintains specialized studios for Asian art, costume, and book conservation.

The Department of Scientific Research, a core group of scientists who collaborate with curators and conservators throughout the Museum, is responsible for investigating the material aspects of works of art in the Museum's collection. Scientists in the department cooperate with conservators and curators in studying, preserving, and conserving works, and also pursue innovative research in analytic techniques, preventive conservation, and treatment methodologies. 

Adoration of the Magi

The Metropolitan's Adoration of the Magi (71.100) was painted in the southern Netherlands, probably in Antwerp, at the end of the fifteenth century, but little else is known regarding the circumstances of its creation. A recent conservation treatment provided the opportunity to examine the painting and to investigate the stages of its production.

Research Paper: Investigating the Formation and Structure of Lead Soaps in Traditional Oil Paintings

Lead and other heavy metal soaps have been detected and reported to be the cause of deterioration in hundreds of oil paintings dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. Understanding the nature of the chemical processes gives art conservators information on ways to slow, stop, and prevent the deterioration of unique works of art.

Saint John. Italian, mid-13th century (25.120.215)

Antibody-based techniques are applied in the field of conservation science to identify and localize the various kinds of proteins used in objects of cultural heritage, revealing insights into materials and techniques used by artists and craftspeople.

Pendant with figure of Prudence. Gold, enamel, jewels, chalcedony. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (17.190.907)

The enamel compositions from a group of well-dated enameled gold jewelry were chemically analyzed to help distinguish between authentic Renaissance period pieces and later pieces done in Renaissance style.

Rudy Colban and Fred Sager using thin saws to cut through the mortar joins. The original stone elements were covered with various types of protective wrappings.

Objects conservators embarked on a challenging project: moving a 25-foot marble structure from The Cloisters to the Main Building.

Sharp Windows

Objects conservators recently applied two approaches for restoring losses to a stained-glass window.

Cezanne's Card Players
In preparation for the 2011 exhibition Cézanne's Card Players, organized in collaboration with the Courtauld Gallery, we investigated the creation of this series of masterpieces through technical examination.
Objects Conservation, Chinese Religious Sculpture

The Metropolitan's collection of Chinese religious sculpture is the largest outside of Asia. The availability of new scholarly information, analytical techniques, and recent archaeology in China prompted the Museum to take an in-depth study of the collection.

Dodder

The dye used in a Latin American Colonial textile from the sixteenth to seventeenth century is examined in order to determine the textile's origin.

Khmer Stones Figure 4a-f

A comprehensive quantitative petrographic database of sandstones used by the Khmers for sculptural purposes would be a helpful tool for archaeologists, museum curators, and others interested in pursuing research on early stone usage, geologic source, and provenance of Southeast Asian stone materials. Toward this end, Khmer sculptures from the Museum's collections have been analyzed and field surveys planned to map and characterize the quarries exploited during the Khmer Empire.

Circle of Hugo van der Goes, Portrait of a Man
On arrival at the Museum for examination in October 2008, this painting's paper support was extremely brittle and delaminating from the wooden panel: a direct consequence of the work having been kept in an uncontrolled environment for many years.
Stanley Spencer's King's Cookham Rise
Stanley Spencer's King's Cookham Rise (1947) came to the studio to be examined and treated in preparation for an exhibition; a non-original varnish that had discolored over time and imparted a yellow cast as well as an overly saturated and glossy appearance was removed.

Radiograph of the replica of the Mask of Agamemnon

The Museum's blogs offer in-depth articles related to scientific research and the conservation of objects, paintings, paper, and photographs.

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Revel in the history of world art with the Met's curators.